by Marion Nestle
Jul 1 2014

Summer reading and cooking: Calories In, Calories Out

Catherine Jones and Elaine Trujillo.  The Calories In, Calories Out Cookbook: 200 Everyday Recipes That Take the Guesswork Out of Counting Calories – Plus, the Exercise It Takes to Burn Them Off.  The Experiment, 2014.

Screenshot 2014-07-01 09.08.14

Ordinarily, I don’t blurb or review cookbooks, but this one is introduced with a chapter on “Understanding the World of Calories” by my Why Calories Count co-author, Dr. Malden Nesheim.

Why Calories Count recommends understanding calories but most definitely does not recommend counting them.  They are too difficult to count accurately unless you weigh everything you are eating, and that’s not much fun for most people.

But if you happen to enjoy counting calories, this book is for you.  It does several clever things:

  • It arranges the recipes by calories from 0-199 per serving to 300-399 per serving.
  • For every recipe, it gives calories, a few other nutrients, and diabetes exchanges.
  • For every recipe, it also lists the kinds and duration of physical activity needed to balance the calories.
  • It gives ways of fiddling with the recipes to adjust calories.
  • It answers FAQs about calories.
  • It lists gluten-free options.

On top of all that, the book is beautifully designed and illustrated, exceptionally easy to read, and scientifically sound.

Even better, the recipes are easy to follow and look delicious.

Let me give one example: creamy chocolate pots (Pots de Crème)

  • 148 calories in: These have 3 grams of protein, 16 of carbohydrates, 8 of fat, and 2 of fiber; 24 milligrams of sodium, 1 carb choice, 1 whole milk diabetic exchange.
  • 148 calories out: Women need to walk 36 minutes or jog 17 minutes.  Men need to walk 30 minutes or jog 14 minutes.

Anyone reading this book will learn a lot about nutrition and calorie balance.

Anyone who enjoys calorie numerology, will have a lot of fun with this book.

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  • StellaBarbone

    I’ve been doing Weight Watchers for five months. I keep a kitchen scale on my counter and have a 1/2 cup scoop in my kitchen drawer. I would estimate that weighing and measuring food costs me a good 30-60 seconds per day…. I eat a lot of healthy food. The problem is that I eat a lot of healthy food. I tend to give my husband and myself the same amount of food and I’m 8 inches shorter. Measurement has helped me recalibrate my eye for portion size. Restaurant portions have grown, dinner plate diameters have grown and it’s easy to lose the idea of appropriate portion size. Also, I’m a good cook!

    I spend another minute or two per day recording the results on my ever-present iPad. I was an engineer in school and I like to count and quantify things. I tried the ad libitum high fat diet and gained weight while instead the calorie counting has worked like a charm. I understand that some people get anxious around numbers, but they make me happy.

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  • CynicalEng

    148 calories in – two hours watching TV out.

  • Paul Farrar

    This should dovetail nicely with with Coca-Cola’s Calories Count PR blitz: , which is a subterfuge to divert attention from the almost uniquely malignant properties of sugar. As for “calories in – calories out”, I have never encountered a person who has achieved more than short-term, partial success at body composition management using that approach. Never, ever, in over 60 years.

  • Mezza Luna

    You sound like my twin, Stella. Same here – I love cooking, I’m a very good cook and I love eating my food. Too much of it, as it turned out. I just cut down the size of the portions, without changing my diet since there really wasn’t much wrong with it and the weight came off. And I love numbers too (worked in IT for decades).

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